Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Ten Cover Letter Tips

Land your dream job with these top ten cover letter tips.
Top Ten Cover Letter TipsBefore you apply for your dream job, check out these tips that will make your cover letter stand out.

Tip #1: Keep it brief.
Your letter should not go over one page. Use short paragraphs and bullet points whenever possible. Avoid flowery or excessive words when fewer words will get your point across equally well.

Tip #2: Be assertive and proactive.
Explain what special skills and qualities you can bring to the job. Don’t explain what the job will do for you. Avoid empty cliches, such as “I am a self-starter” or “I’m a people person.” Use active words and phrases. Avoid “are” and “is.”

Tip #3: Tailor the cover letter to the specific company.
Don’t write generic praise about the company. Be as specific as you can and demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Research the company using its own website, as well as business information sites such as www.hoovers.com and www.fastcompany.com. Check news sources for recent company events that you can reference in your letter.

Tip #4: Revise your cover letter for each application.
Different aspects of your background will fit different jobs. Focus on relevant job experiences and skills. For instance, an employer for a research position probably wouldn’t be interested in your creative writing skills.

Tip #5: When writing about non-professional experiences, translate them into “business- speak.”
Explain how your class-related, extracurricular or volunteer activities have prepared you for other kinds of work. Compare:
“I was president of the French club.” vs. “In my term as president of the French club, I developed valuable leadership skills as I organized a 10 person team to undertake fundraising activities.”

Tip #6: Address your letter to an individual rather than a department.
Call the company directly to identify the proper addressee. Use formal language (Mr., Ms., Dr.) when addressing them, and never just their first name—even if you know them personally.

Tip #7: Appearances count.
Use high-quality white paper; it’s thicker than typewriter or printer paper. Avoid elaborate or colored stationery. Print a clean final copy to send, not a photocopy.

Tip #8: Let the employer be the judge of your skills.
State your skills and qualifications, but don’t tell the employer that you are the best person for the job. It can appear arrogant and presumptuous. Impress the employer with your skills, and let them conclude you are the best person for the job.

Tip #9: Proofread!
Typos will land your letter in the trash. Check grammar, spelling and especially the spellings of names. Have somebody else read your letter—they can pick up on things missing from your letter. Before mailing, make sure you’ve included your resume and any other requested items.

Tip #10: Follow up with a thank-you note.
A thank-you note demonstrates your interest in the job and will help them keep you in mind for the position.

Writing a Resume with No Work Experience

Whether you are creating your resume for college applications or you are in the midst of your very first job hunt, writing a resume without any work experience can be a daunting challenge.

As an addendum to our guide on how to write an entry level resume, here are a few tips on beefing up the content of your resume when you are running short on work experience!

Not all experience is gained on the job. Highlight your volunteer work. Include bullet points with details of responsibilities you held and the experience you gained.

Include specific details on any academic achievements or awards that you have won. Extracurricular activities and honors offer the same opportunity. Think of any possible details that might be worth noting.

Second place in the Florida Science Fair Competition. - 1 of only 4 representatives from the Orange County school district to travel to Tallahassee. - Worked with the TAs from UCF on replicating my project on kinetic energy for their classes.
Excel in a particular hobby or interest? Include them. Many hobbies offer the chance to improve your organizational skills, sociability or written communication. Even though your hobby is something that you consider to be fun, it can also be very valuable to you when preparing your first resume!

When you are thin on experience, references can make all the difference. Consider supplying a list of references with not just their contact information, but also details on your relationship to them. Personal references can count for quite a lot early on!

For more instructions on how to write your first resume, check out our entry level resume guide!

10 Signs Your Interview Went Well

You did it.
You landed an interview, dressed to impress, had great conversation and you think you might actually have a shot at getting a job offer.
But is there any way to actually know if the interview was in your favor?
Many times, job seekers are so focused on what they did wrong in an interview that they don't think about the many things they did right. While no signs are 100 percent foolproof, there are definitely some indicators that you have won over your interviewer.
Justin Honaman, director of customer intelligence at Coca-Cola Customer Business Solutions, says that although you may think you've executed well in the interview don't stop the process there. Even if all signs point to a job offer, you should follow-up effectively to complete your career transition.
Here are 10 signs that indicate you rocked your interview:
1. Round two
The easiest way to gauge short-term success is if the interviewer asks you to return for another round of interviews. If he wasn't interested, he would be evasive as whether or not you could expect to hear back from someone. "The hiring manager does not want to waste any more time interviewing you if you are not a fit," Honaman assures. "Invitation to the next round is a win!"
2. References pleaseWhy would you be asked for references unless someone cared to learn more about you? "A firm will not spend the time to do background checks and talk with references if you are out of the candidate pool," Honaman says. "Provide specific, knowledgeable references and bring those to the interview."
3. Meet the teamIt's a good sign when the hiring manager chooses to introduce you to the team on the spot, or mentions that there are some people she would like you to meet. If she wasn't interested, again, she wouldn't take the time in making acquaintances.
"Leaders are protective of their team and will not risk introducing a candidate if they are not a potential fit to join the organization," Honaman says. Remember that the hiring manager may request feedback from the team on their first impressions of you, so be nice to anyone you meet.
4. What are the transition steps?
When a company is interested in you, you'll be asked things like the amount of time needed for a transition or what non-competes might be in place, Honaman says. "If the hiring manager is interested in moving forward with an offer, they will typically ask what steps need to be taken for your departure from your current organization so that you can assume the new role," he says.
5. Dollars and senseDepending on what stage of the interview process you're in, it could be a good thing if you're asked about salary expectations. It demonstrates that the company might be willing to invest in you. Honaman suggests answering this question with caution:
"You can have the absolute best interview ever and be dead in the water if you answer this question incorrectly," he says. "The question comes in two forms: 'What are your salary expectations?' or 'What is your current compensation?' Arrive at any interview with current compensation details written down for your own reference -- if asked -- and have an idea of how you will answer this question."
6. HR smilesThe human resources representative or recruiter is generally a good indication of how things went in the interview process. Take note of his or comments after the interview; they are your No.1 contact during the process and are often a guide to the projected outcome, Honaman says.
7. Your turnWhen the interviewer spends a lot of time answering your questions, it's a signal that the he wants to sell you on the business, the team and position rather than you continuing to pursue the role, Honaman says. "In most interviews, the hiring manager will ask if you have any questions as standard procedure, but spend less time with questions and answers if the interview has not gone well in their mind."
8. Let's keep rollingIf hiring managers are uninterested, they typically look for ways to wrap up the interview. "At times, interviews will go well beyond the allotted time as the hiring manager or interview team wants to know more about you, or share with you more about the organization and role," Honaman says. If they are not interested in your candidacy, they won't drag out the interview.
9. Non-verbals speakNon-verbal signals are often a good predictor of interview performance. Pay close attention to the interviewer(s) and observe such non-verbal cues as taking notes, smiles, head-nods or asking probing questions, Honaman says. "At the same time, if an interviewer is taking few notes, looking at their watch repeatedly [or] not asking detailed questions, the interview may not be going well."
10. Cultural fitThe more a hiring manager talks about how you'll fit into the mold at a company, the better. "Most leaders are looking for candidates that can easily fit into a team environment or operate well as an individual contributor," Honaman says. "If the hiring manager is interested in your taking the position, they will share additional details about the culture and shift into 'sales' mode on the organization."
Again, none of these are surefire signals that you've gotten the job. Plus, even though you did everything right, there is always the chance that someone else did, too. But if you continually see a couple of the above signals you'll know you've at least got a shot.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CBwriterRZ.
source: http://www.careerbuilder.com

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